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Alumni Awards

  • Olivet Nazarene University is pleased to honor alumni who exhibit the characteristics and ideals of their alma mater.

  • "O" Awards

    Since 1957, the Olivet Alumni Association has recognized outstanding alumni through the presentation of the "O" Awards at the annual fall Homecoming Celebration. One ministerial and one lay person have been chosen from nominations submitted to the Alumni Board. Qualified individuals represent the ideals of the University and have distinguished themselves in their professional fields. 

  • Dr. Rodney Reed ’84/’86 M.A

    RodReed2015OAward “At Olivet, you will find opportunities to engage the world and to serve others,” Rod says. “You will discover and develop the gifts and abilities God has given you. How do I know this? Because this is what Olivet did for me.”

    Rod earned a B.A. in Religion in 1984 and a M.A. in Religion in 1986 at Olivet. And he, a French horn player in the Concert Band, also met and married a cute clarinetist named Sarah (Van Meter) '84.

    He went on to earn a M.Div. degree from Nazarene Theological Seminary in 1988, as well as a M.Phil. in Theological Ethics in 1991 and a Ph.D. in Theological Ethics in 1995 from Drew University.

    “Being an Olivet graduate means being a part of something bigger than yourself,” he says. “I have a responsibility to use my education to serve God and humanity.”

    In 2000, Rod and Sarah were appointed as global missionaries for the Church of the Nazarene. Today, he serves as deputy vice chancellor of academic affairs at Africa Nazarene University in Nairobi, Kenya. He also serves on several boards and committees for the Church of the Nazarene, both regionally and internationally, that work to ensure the quality of the ministerial training for pastors.

    Rod and Sarah are the parents of three daughters: Rebecca ’14; Katie, a senior at Olivet; and Hannah, a high school student in Nairobi.

    “I am truly honored to receive this award,” Rod says. “I acknowledge that anything positive that has happened through my ministry is, first and foremost, because God has made it so. I have merely been a willing vessel in His hands.”

    Watch the award presentation here.

    Dr. Donald Williamson ’54

    DonaldWilliamson2015OAward“I’m humbled and amazed by receiving this award,” says Donald Williamson. His deep commitment and many years of service to Olivet humble and amaze all who know him.

    Born and raised in New Castle, Indiana, Donald married Marilyn (Harter) in 1951. She worked to help him make it through college, and he graduated from Olivet in 1954 with a degree in business. “Faculty members became my friends,” he says. “That has been important to me.”

    In 1955, Donald began his career in insurance, and later continued in the financial services business until his retirement in 2011. He developed thriving insurance agencies in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Chicago. He also held the position of senior vice president of marketing for a life insurance company. For the 30 years prior to his retirement, he worked in asset management, was a Registered Investment Advisor and owned Williamson Financial Services.

    “My business has taken me from coast to coast, and I’ve met Olivet alumni all over the world,” he says. “Once you’re in the Olivet family, you’re never out of it.”

    Donald and Marilyn are the parents of three children, all ONU grads: Denny ’75, Steve ’76 and Rhonda (Williamson) Watson ’80. Five of their seven grandchildren are fourth generation ONU grads, and they also have three great-grandchildren.

    For many years, Donald served on Olivet’s alumni board, board of trustees and foundation board, including terms as chairman. In 2002, he received an honorary doctorate degree from Olivet.

    “The University does a great job in preparing students for life and their careers,” he says. “But I’m most proud of the spiritual aspect of an Olivet education.”

    Watch the award presentation here.

    For more information about award criteria, click here.

    Past Recipients

    Nomination Form

  • Young Alumni Award 

    In 2011, the Young Alumni Award was established, honoring two alumni — one male and one female — to be presented at the annual fall Homecoming Celebration. Recipients are chosen by vote of the Alumni Board, and must have graduated from Olivet within the last 10 years. This award is made possible through a generous gift from Mel '73 and Judi (Tucker) '71 Sayes. 

  • Lauren (Hawkins) Larsen ’08

     2015YoungAlumniAwardLaurenGrowing up as the daughter of a Nazarene U.S. Army chaplain, Lauren had lived in eight different states and two different countries by the time she graduated from high school. Today, she lives and works in Chicago, leading a $130 million feminine health business for Procter & Gamble (P&G).

    In her studies at Olivet, Lauren excelled as a business management major, contributing in the classroom and through Enactus. Her internship with P&G, the world’s largest consumer company, resulted in a full-time job after graduation.

    Her career with P&G includes a quick rise from an intern to a senior account executive, working on more than 30 brands. She lived and worked in Boston for two years and then transferred to Chicago.

    Lauren thanks her parents and the Nazarene church for her desire to serve in local and global missions. She has always had a passion for Operation Christmas Child and led the effort to bring it to Olivet in 2006. For three weeks in Uganda, she distributed medical supplies and shared the gospel in orphanages and camps for Internally Displaced Persons.

    She met her husband, Joe, at Park Community Church in Chicago. They married in February 2014 and welcomed their first child, Samuel, in June 2015.

    “I’m incredibly humbled to receive the Young Alumni Award,” Lauren says. “Olivet provided me with an excellent collegiate experience that resulted in lifelong relationships, spiritual development and career preparation.”

    Watch the award presentation here.

    Rusty Funk ’07

    2015YoungAlumniAwardRusty Rusty graduated from Olivet with a bachelor’s degree in youth ministry. He moved to Chicago’s East Garfield Park Neighborhood — one of the city’s most underserved and violent neighborhoods — to work with Breakthrough Urban Ministries alongside men experiencing homelessness.

    In 2011, Rusty joined the staff of Team World Vision. Since then, he and his team have partnered with more than 300 U.S. churches and schools. They have empowered more than 20,000 individuals to finish their FIRST half or full marathon races, resulting in more than $25 million for World Vision’s water projects in East Africa.

    Rusty has even activated Olivet’s student body to be part of this movement. Since 2011, more than 400 ONU students, faculty and staff have finished the Chicago Marathon — and raised the funds to provide clean water for 6,000 individuals!

    He and his wife, Annalisa (Munoz) ’09, live in Chicago. They share a passion for connecting the American church to the global poor in new and innovative ways.

    “Receiving this award is an incredibly humbling experience,” Rusty says. “I can sum up my Olivet experience in one word: PEOPLE. Roommates who became lifelong friends. Those who challenged me to leave my ministry comfort zone. Those who introduced me to a Jesus who dares us to trust Him, invites us to risk for Him and loves us even when we fail miserably. My heart is filled with gratitude for Olivet’s PEOPLE.” 

    Watch the award presentation here.

    For more information about award criteria, click here.

    Past Recipients

    Nomination Form